In recent years, destinations have started implementing measures to combat the burdens of unsustainable tourism. Hawaii has banned the sale of reef-toxic sunscreens, Dubrovnik limited the number of cruise ships that can dock each day, Palau protected 80% of its waters, Barcelona cracked down on illegal vacation rentals. While these are certainly steps in the right direction, there’s still much more that can be done.
The development of technology has enabled us to reach any destination we wish to. Traveling has never been easier: cheap travel cost, availability of vehicles, selfies spiraling. However, the more people travel, the more burden the environment has to endure due to irresponsible carbon footprint on Earth. Instead of being a problem, why don’t we be a part of the solution to keep our planet sustainable while traveling? Today, we cover some steps for a traveler to embark on the next destination.
Avoid flying to nearby destinations
Research shows that taking just one flight can produce more emissions than some people produce in an entire year. Trying to use other vehicles for nearby distances can help to reduce greenhouse gases. Charter buses and trains are ideal for travel when vacationing closer to home. In case you are not the type of person preferring to use public transportation, you can rent a car and enjoy a classic road trip with your friends or family.
Avoid single-use plastics
Single-use plastics are hard to dispose of and can cause harm to both the environment and animals. We are all aware of how convenient a plastic bottle can be, but we must look into other alternatives to protect our planet. Some solutions are using reusable containers, utensils and bottles or you can try to dine-in rather than get takeout.
This step seems not familiar but do you know that the heavier your luggage, the more fuel it takes to transport it? Therefore, you can choose a light suitcase and pack only the necessary things. The tip is to try to pack clothes or items that you can wear or reuse multiple times.
Turn down the AC and heat, switch off electronics
It is a vacation and you deserve to enjoy it as much as you can. However, whenever you leave your electronics devices, remember how our planet will pay the price due to the carbon emissions we generate. There are several things we can do to minimize waste energy: turning off the fans or lights when leaving the hotel room, and utilizing the natural wind instead of using AC too much.
Choosing Hotels supporting sustainable travel
Don’t try to solve the problem alone. It is a good idea to choose hotels that can together with us do sustainable things to support the environment. A lot of hotels offer eco-friendly travel programs or donate money to support the preservation of the local environment. Some hotels even refuse to use plastic bottles and plastic items in their rooms.
Visit parks and protected areas
National parks, marine sanctuaries, and other protected places play a vital role in safeguarding the natural riches and biodiversity of our world. To protect these unique sites and species, many countries rely on tourism taxes such as admission fees, operator permits, and bed levies. Visiting those places can help to raise funds to assist in funding conservation efforts while also providing money to local communities.
Keep your dollars local
Supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs is the best way to ensure that host communities benefit from tourism. Instead of staying in expat-owned hotels or foreign chains, consider staying in locally-owned homestays and guesthouses. Another way is to get out of your comfort zone and explore the local market - buy spices grown by a local farmer or jewelry made by a local artist.
Conserve water and energy
Tourists often consume more water and energy than residents. To be part of the solution, you can change your behavior to conserve local water and energy resources. Some actions you can follow: When not in use, turn off the lights, TV, and any other equipment. When you leave your hotel, turn off the air conditioning or raise the thermostat a few degrees. Instead of taking a bath, take a shower and make it as short as possible. To save excessive laundering, hand wash your garments and hang up the "Do Not Disturb" sign.
Don’t Print Your Tickets
Opt for digital versions of your travel passes and booking confirmations to help the environment. If you're flying with an airline that doesn't offer an app for this, put your printed photos in a scrapbook to prevent them from going to waste and to keep your memories alive.
To save energy, make sure all except the minimal needs (such as your refrigerator and freezer) are switched off and unplugged if you're just going to be gone for a short time. If you're going on a longer vacation, make sure they're empty until you leave by planning meals around the fresh produce you'll be storing in them or donating any leftovers to family or friends.
As a traveler, you can be part of the solution. As tourism recovers from the pandemic, we have an unprecedented opportunity to start things fresh and choose a more sustainable path forward. There has never been a better time to rethink past habits and reshape the way we travel!